Published: 04th September 2021
India's Best Teachers 2021: This Telangana teacher's efforts to help drop-outs resume education, keep girls in school won him a National Award
Rangaiah Kaderla joined the primary school in Sawarkheda in Telangana's Kumuram Bheem district around 10 years ago. This is how he changed the students' lives there
When Rangaiah Kaderla joined the Mandal Parishadh Primary School (MPPS) is Sawarkheda village in Telangana's Kumuram Bheem district in 2011, he was the only teacher there. The number of students was low — a mere 50 — and the only thing Rangaiah had going for him was his undying dedication to improve the lives and livelihoods of the children of the village. Over the next decade, Rangaiah would fight tooth and nail to convince parents and students of Sawarkheda and at least 10 other villages nearby to come to school and receive quality education.
And quality it is.
After Rangaiah took over at the helm, he introduced digital classes, got more teachers and expanded the school's infrastructure. Today, the school sees enrollment upwards of 250 students every year. All this and much, much more, earned him the National Award for Teachers this year.
Such was Rangaiah's commitment to the quality of education at MPPS that he decided to lead by example. "I enrolled my daughter in the school after moving to Sawarkheda with my family. She graduated from high school but my son still goes to MPPS. He is now in Class 4," says Rangaiah, who was instrumental in converting the school from Telugu medium to English medium. Currently, the school has two permanent teachers and another 13 contractual teachers hired by the state government. Rangaiah says that his wife, who is also a teacher, has helped him tremendously in this journey.
What's unique about Rangaiah's approach is that he involved the entire village community in his quest to impart quality education. "Over time, the parents and even the teachers donated money to improve the infrastructure. The parents' mindset changed and they took part in the school's development. From furniture to paint to even a water purification plant, parents helped build it all," says Rangaiah. And that's not all. Rangaiah is also committed to helping students who have dropped out or have to repeat a year. "I conduct special classes early in the morning and during the evenings as well," explains Rangaiah, who completed his BEd from Government Degree College in Hyderabad.
Online classes weren't a huge success in MPPS as the internet connection in the area isn't strong enough. But Rangaiah developed a solution for that as well. "I organised a team of student teachers called Super 100, who mentor and share their own knowledge among the students of their area. This ensures that students are not completely separated from learning," says Rangaiah. Moreover, Rangaiah also developed a programme called FM Sawarkheda. "It plays on loudspeakers near the temple in the mornings and evenings, where students recite poetry, rhymes and ask questions to each other," states Rangaiah. The Super 100 also ensures that students in their area have the feel of going to school even amid the pandemic. "They even conduct a morning prayer, where all the village children gather at the village crossroad and say their morning prayers," explains Rangaiah, an MSc Physics graduate from Acharya Nagarjuna University.
FM Sawarkheda is one of Rangaiah's initiatives
But what Rangaiah is perhaps the proudest of is his endeavours in educating girls in the region. His efforts in Sawarkheda not only brought girls back to school, but it also reduced the number of child marriages in the area. "Alcoholism was another dominant problem in the area. I went on a ten-day hunger strike a few years ago. Alcohol consumption has decreased in Sawarkheda," says Rangaiah. But Rangaiah's journey is far from over. The 39-year-old Acting Headmaster explains, "I have a 20-year dream that these students become doctors, engineers and IAS officers and I'm still working towards that."